About fifteen years ago shops in Lorraine started offering on display different products for Halloween. As children were enjoying mid-term holidays at this time of the year, it became very fashionable to wear costumes, prepare black and orange decorations, ask for sweets and even carve a pumpkin to show Jack O'Lantern on the 31st of October.
Nowadays we see less of these, it is more or less disappearing and shops get only a few things in a corner. Why ? It was not our tradition, especially using pumpkins.
But who knows there was a tradition in Lorraine before this ? And that pumkins were not used ?
Pumpkins didn't grow in Europe, Irish people discovered them in America and started using them for Halloween.
But carving vegetables was a tradition in Lorraine. People used mangel-wurzels, rutabagas or swedes, turnips, all roots which were prepared to celebrate the beginning of winter. They put candles in them and kept them on window sills or put them near crossroads to frighten passers-by. These carved vegetables were called Rommelbootzen in the local dialect of Moselle, they also existed in the Vosges mountains.
When Halloween "fashion" arrived in France, some people decided it was the right time to bring back to life the celebration of Rommelbootzen, especially in Freistroff in Moselle. It is a good opportunity to have a good time before days are cold and dark.
As I parked my car on the side of the castle of Lunéville and used the stairs in the wing, I didn't see it at first. I only discovered it when I arrived at the end of the pumpkin exhibition, near the gate.
People growing all sorts of cucurbitaceae have used them to create a character in the manner of Arcimboldo (He lived in the 16th century and is known because of his paintings, portraits using fruit and vegetables. He is one famous painters of the Italian Renaissance).
The character in Lunéville looked quite funny, a sort of colourful little man children enjoyed to look at and to comment about. They were all coming to see it. A sign on the left reminded us about the Italian artist by playing on words, "Art-Cime-Bol-D'Eau".
Arcimboldo was welcoming people and inviting them to walk around and buy pumpkins and other vegetables. And it worked.
Six o'clock, Saturday morning, perfect time to stay in bed when it is still dark. Suddenly, a noise in the bathroom ! Who is up ? Nothing is planned so early.
So, after calling and getting no answer, I got up and found nobody around ! I noticed the bath mat was at the bottom of the bath, it had slipped from the side. Maybe.
Back to bed. Five minutes later, noise again. This time I didn't call. I went to the bathroom, it was still noisy. Have I missed a mouse in the bath ? No, nothing, but I realized that, in fact, the noise came from the attic.
Back to the bedroom. "There is something moving in the attic." "Yes." The answer means I'd better deal with the problem alone. Torch in hand I went up there. Nothing on the floor, nothing near the chimney and, suddenly, on the wall near the roof, two green eyes ! We observed each other. I decided it was not a cat and moved a bit. The eyes slowly disappeared behind the wall.
No way in going back to bed. I looked on internet : green eyes in the dark. Answer : nocturnal animal. I think it must be a dormouse, not aggressive but noisy and causing damages, but so cute !
BUT I had forgotten, Halloween is coming ! Could it be one of these frightening spirits wandering, exploring the area before raging ? One with green eyes. I'd better be careful before going to the attic, at least till the beginning of November. You never know !
Autumn started one month ago. We thought it would be dark and cold as our spring was. And we had a bit of cold, but no frost. There was even snow in the Vosges mountains. We were ready to face a long and unpleasant time.
And suddenly, about ten days ago, temperatures went up again. They reached 23° C (about 73° F). Even the wind was warm.
Of course, it is pleasant. People stay outside as much as they can. But, there is always a "but", now we have to face thunder and heavy rain certainly linked to warm air. It doesn't last the whole day but it is quite bad. In Moselle, there were floods yesterday and a few houses were damaged by strong wind.
I wondered what the old sayings said. Thunder in October, good grape harvest. Well, we'll check next year if it is true. Autumn with flower, winter with rigour. Well, for this one, now we know. So, get ready !
Yesterday I watched news during my lunch. There was a video about a former sea diver who is now a knife-grinder. He has bought a special machine (made in France, he said) and equipped a van and goes from customer to customer.
I don't remember seeing a knife-grinder coming to the village when I was a child, maybe because we had our own stone wheel at home and my grand-father and father dealt with our knives and other blades. Then we had a sharpening steel and men were still the ones using it.
About ten years ago a man came and stopped his van near the village square. He was a knife-grinder and was looking for customers. I saw him once only. We were not ready maybe.
The man on television yesterday seemed quite successful. He was going from restaurants to butchers's and people were asking him to sharpen garden tools too.
The journalist said it is an old job which is coming back to life. Why not ? It doesn't seem to be a bad idea.